Charlie Hunnam Cast as Lead in Apple TV+ Series ‘Shantaram’

Apple has cast actor Charlie Hunnam in its upcoming series "Shantaram," which will air on Apple TV+ sometime after the service debuts this November (via Variety). The series is an adaptation of the Gregory David Roberts novel of the same name, the rights to which Apple acquired back in June 2018.

Image via Variety/Eric Charbonneau

The novel is based somewhat on Roberts' real life, focusing on a character named Lin (Hunnam), who is a convict that flees from an Australian prison and hopes to get lost in the city of Bombay. In the city, Lin stumbles across an underworld of criminals while individuals from his life in prison hunt him down.

Apple won the rights to the book amid a competitive bidding war that was said to include multiple streaming companies. Previously, plans to adapt "Shantaram" included Joel Edgerton in the role as Lin for a feature film, but plans fell through, leading to the idea of a streaming TV series.

"American Hustle" screenwriter Eric Warren Singer will serve as the showrunner and executive producer of the new Apple series. Singer also worked on "The International", "Only the Brave", and wrote the script for the upcoming sequel "Top Gun: Maverick." Hunnam is known for his roles in "Sons of Anarchy," "Pacific Rim," and "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword."

It's not clear yet when "Shantaram" will premiere on Apple TV+, but since casting has just gotten underway and filming has not yet begun, it's likely that we won't see the show debut until mid-to-late 2020 at the earliest.


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J.J. Abrams Declined Apple’s $500 Million Offer Because it Would Have Restricted Bad Robot Productions to Apple TV+

A new article by The Hollywood Reporter today sheds light on why director/producer J.J. Abrams declined a big deal with Apple, which would have seen his Bad Robot production company become one of the main creators for exclusive content on Apple TV+.


According to sources, Abrams and his wife Katie McGrath wanted to be able to sell Bad Robot's content to other outlets. Of course, Apple wanted the company to exclusively produce shows and movies that would only be made available on Apple TV+ and nowhere else. Ultimately, Abrams decided to stick with WarnerMedia, which offered far less than Apple.
Sources familiar with the deal say it is less about money and more about the larger opportunities that come with an established media giant like WarnerMedia. Abrams is said to have wanted a set number of guaranteed slots on Warner Bros.' feature film release calendar, though it's unclear if that was included in the new agreement. With Warners, Abrams has the ability to create new features that could see his new deal reach the billions if he's able to create a successful franchise.
Now that Bad Robot remains under WarnerMedia, the company is able to create shows like "Lisey's Story" and sell it out to other brands, including Apple. Abrams hopes to turn Bad Robot into a "consumer brand" in this way and get its content in front of as many people as possible, which would have been more difficult if it were locked behind the Apple TV+ exclusivity barrier.

Apple's exclusivity deal (valued in the $500 million range), also would have restricted Abrams' ability to work on outside projects under the Bad Robot umbrella for other studios, like his work on Star Trek for Paramount. Additionally, Bad Robot was concerned about Apple's lack of a clear theatrical distribution model, which the company as of yet has not needed to dabble in.

There are a multitude of other reasons that appear to have ultimately convinced Abrams to remain at WarnerMedia. These include Apple's lack of IP for him to adapt, his alleged disappointment in Apple's March media event where it introduced Apple TV+, and a disagreement on the exact valuation of Bad Robot.

J.J. Abrams is still producing many shows on Apple TV+, including "Little Voice," "My Glory Was I Had Such Friends," and the adaptation of the Stephen King novel "Lisey's Story."


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Apple Joins Hollywood’s Academy Software Foundation to Aid in Open Source Support

The Academy Software Foundation, a collaborative effort to advance open source software development in the motion picture and media industries, today announced that Apple has joined the foundation as a "premier" member.


"Filmmakers everywhere use Apple products. We are delighted to welcome Apple as a new member, and we look forward to working with them to ensure that our open source projects run well on Apple software platforms," said David Morin, Executive Director of the Academy Software Foundation.

Launched in August 2018 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation, the Academy Software Foundation is described as "a neutral forum for open source software developers to share resources and collaborate on technologies for image creation, visual effects, animation and sound."

Apple's streaming video service Apple TV+ will feature dozens of Hollywood-produced TV shows and movies. The service launches November 1 for $4.99 per month, including Family Sharing, with a free seven-day trial available.


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Apple Shares First Full Trailer For ‘The Morning Show’

After posting a brief teaser last week, Apple today shared the first official trailer for "The Morning Show" starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carell.

The trailer provides the first glimpse at each character on the show, which centers around a struggle for power behind the scenes of a network news show.


Aniston plays one of the anchors of The Morning Show, while Carell plays a former anchor who was fired following accusations made against him on the show. The trailer also reveals that Witherspoon will play a reporter who begins rising up the ranks, potentially threatening Aniston's job.

"The Morning Show" will launch this fall on Apple TV+, but Apple hasn't yet provided a release date for its new streaming service. There are quite a few other shows that will be coming out on the platform, all of which we've rounded up here.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12, tvOS 13
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Apple Shares Teaser for Upcoming ‘The Morning Show’ Drama Coming to Apple TV+ This Fall

Apple today shared a one-minute teaser trailer for its upcoming "The Morning Show" drama show starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. The series will debut this fall on Apple TV+.


"The Morning Show," as its name suggests, will take a look inside the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning.
The news is only half the story.

The Morning Show stars Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon, Emmy Award-winner Jennifer Aniston and Emmy Award-winner Steve Carell in a high-stakes drama that pulls back the curtain on early morning TV.
Apple has also created Twitter and Instagram accounts for "The Morning Show."

Apple TV+ is Apple's upcoming streaming video service that will compete with Netflix on original content, with dozens of TV shows and movies already lined up. Apple TV+ will be available this fall on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, and select smart TVs from brands like Samsung.



Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12, tvOS 13
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Apple and BBC Co-Producing Comedy Series Starring Imelda Staunton From Harry Potter

Apple is teaming up with the BBC to co-produce an eight-part comedy-drama series with a working title of "Alabama," according to a report from British comedy website Chortle highlighted by Engadget.

Imelda Staunton

Written by former stand-up Andy Wolton, the show will reportedly star Imelda Staunton, who is best known for her performance in the British comedy television series "Up the Garden Path" and for playing Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies "Order of the Phoenix" and part one of "Deathly Hallows."

The series is reportedly in production and is slated to air worldwide next year on Apple's upcoming streaming video service, Apple TV+. Apple and BBC declined to comment on the series, and plot details have yet to be revealed.


Apple TV+ will feature dozens of original TV shows and movies with stars such as Steve Carell, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Oprah Winfrey. The service is set to launch in over 100 countries in the fall within the Apple TV app on the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV, and Mac.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 12, tvOS 13
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Don't Buy)

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Upcoming Apple TV+ Sci-Fi Drama ‘See’ Reported to Cost $15 Million Per Episode

Apple has several original TV shows in the works for its upcoming Apple TV+ streaming service, and a new report by The Wall Street Journal looks at the big budgets involved in these productions as competition hots up among rival streaming services eager to win over audiences in a market dominated by the likes of Netflix and HBO.


According to the report, Amazon and Netflix have increased budgets for original content in the last few years. Netflix originally spent $4.5 million per episode on "House of Cards," but now many newcomers are having to spend between $8 million and $15 million per episode on original content to compete with established services.

For example, Disney's Star Wars spinoff "The Mandalorian" costs nearly $15 million per episode, according to people who spoke to WSJ. As for Apple, it is said to be spending nearly $15 million per episode to produce sci-fi drama "See," which stars Jason Momoa of "Game of Thrones" and Aquaman fame.
In the case of Apple's "See," the cost has neared $15 million for each roughly 60-minute episode, according to a person familiar with the matter. That is more than the cost of a typical independent feature film.

"See," set centuries in the future after a virus has wiped out much of Earth's population and left survivors blind, appears to be taking cues from the "Game of Thrones" playbook of cinematic world-building. Footage shown at Apple’s programming event featured Mr. Momoa ready-set for battle alongside dozens of actors in sweeping vistas filmed in the fields and forests of British Columbia.
These kinds of figures per episode mean shows can easily exceed $150 million per season – or as much as a typical big-budget movie. One driving factor, according to the report, is that high-profile TV shows are offered up next to theatrical films available to stream on the same service, so "original programming can't risk looking like B-material next to the movies."

Apple is working on dozens of original TV shows and movies with high-profile directors, producers, and actors. The company was reported to have a budget of about $1 billion for its original content and TV shows in 2017.

It's unclear if Apple's budget has risen since that time, but as the WSJ report concludes, a certain power comes with paying big money for A-list actors, since it signals to other top actors and directors that Apple is committed to writing big checks for its top shows.

For example, Apple has signed a deal for two seasons of morning talk show drama "The Morning Show," starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. According to a report in January 2018, the two key stars are set to earn $1.25 million per episode.

Apple TV+, Apple's new streaming television service, is coming this fall. It will be available on all devices where the TV app is available, which includes iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV, along with the Mac. There's no TV app for Mac right now, but Apple plans to introduce one later this year.

Apple has not yet announced pricing for the service, but it is ad free and shows will be available to watch on demand. For more information on Apple TV+, make sure to check out our Apple TV+ guide.


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Apple’s Oscar-Winning Ambitions to be Spearheaded By Six Original Movies a Year, With a Budget up to $30 Million per Film

Apple plans to produce six small-budget movies a year with an eye toward stories that could win Academy Awards, according to The New York Post.


The Post's sources claim Apple wants to spend between $5-$30 million on each movie, and that it has already approached "elevated" directors and other film talent about bankrolling projects with Oscar-winning potential.
Apple is looking to spend $5 million to $30 million per project, sources said, adding that the company is being driven by Netflix’s recent spate of Oscar nominations and win for Best Foreign Film with "Roma" — legitimizing Netflix head Reed Hastings' standing in Hollywood.

"They are taking meetings and hiring," one agency source said of Apple, adding that the meetings are being generated by the company's original feature films unit, headed by Matt Dentler, formerly of iTunes Movies.
According to the report, Apple's search for six small-budget movies is not related to its multiyear agreement to make films with A23, the studio that produced the Oscar-winning "Moonlight."

Apple is working on dozens of original TV shows and movies with high-profile directors, producers, and actors, with all of that content set to be available through a new Apple TV+ app that's going to be released this fall. Check out our dedicated roundup to learn everything that we know so far about Apple's new streaming TV service.


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Dinosaur Documentary Series ‘Prehistoric Planet’ Coming to Apple TV+ From Producer Jon Favreau

Apple has greenlit a new project from producer/director Jon Favreau for Apple TV+, called "Prehistoric Planet." The series is said to provide a look at the last days of the dinosaurs using CGI to recreate the events (via Variety).

Image by John Salangsang via Shutterstock/Variety

Favreau is known for directing films like "Iron Man," the live-action version of "The Jungle Book" and the upcoming reboot of "The Lion King." He will partner with "Planet Earth II" producer Mike Gunton on Apple's new series, which will be produced by BBC Studios' Natural History Unit.

Apple announced Apple TV+ in March during an event filled with various celebrities, including Oprah, Jason Momoa, and Steven Spielberg. The company's streaming service is set to launch in the fall of 2019 and it will be housed in the existing TV app.

Besides documentaries and natural history series like "Prehistoric Planet," Apple TV+ will include numerous scripted dramatic and comedic shows. These include "The Morning Show," "See," "Truth Be Told," "Dickinson," an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" book series, and more. You can see every show coming to Apple TV+ right here.


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Apple Inks Deal for ‘Lisey’s Story’ TV Show Written by Stephen King and Starring Julianne Moore

Apple has given a straight to series order for eight episodes of "Lisey's Story," a TV show based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Julianne Moore is set to star in the series, while Stephen King will write all eight episodes in addition to executive producing. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, King does not often write for TV shows, making "Lisey's Story" notable.

Image credit: Getty Images via The Hollywood Reporter

In the past, King has called "Lisey's Story" one of his favorite books, and one that he'd love to see turned into a television series.

The novel, which is a psychological horror with romance elements, is split between Lisey's life in the present time and her dead husband's life (a famous novelist) as she remembers it. Lisey begans to remember things about her husband that she had suppressed while being terrorized in the present by a former fan of her husband's.

Along with King and Moore, the series also boasts J.J. Abrams and Ben Stephenson of Bad Robot Productions as executive producers. This is the third series Abrams is working on for Apple, as he is also developing "Little Voice" with Sara Bareilles and "My Glory Was I Had Such Friends" with Jennifer Garner.

Julianne Moore has recently starred in movies that include "Kingsman: The Golden Circle," "Bel Canto," "Gloria Bell," and "Suburbicon," but she has not been in a television series since her stint on "As the World Turns" in the 80s, with the exception of a few appearances on "30 Rock."

Apple currently has more than two dozen television shows in the works for its upcoming Apple TV+ service, which is set to debut this fall. We have a running list of all of the TV shows and movies that Apple is working on available in our original content guide.


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